Any time you do something for the first time, there are things you don’t know. Sometimes those things don’t hurt you. You just learn as you go along. But, when you’re buying a home for the first time, the things you don’t know can hurt you. It makes sense to understand the mistakes others have made and figure out how to avoid those things before they make buying your first home a stressful experience. Here’s how to avoid five first-time homebuyer mistakes.

1. Assuming Your Credit is Fine

If you haven’t checked your credit score lately, you need to do that now. You may assume that everything is fine, especially if you don’t have creditors beating down your door. But, there are all kinds of things that can affect your credit score.

You may have an old dispute with a creditor that you never resolved, or you could think that being late making payments isn’t an issue if it happened a long time ago. Besides things you’ve done, there can be inaccurate information on a credit report that is bringing down your score. You need to make sure your credit reports are accurate and if your credit score isn’t that great, fix it. You’ll find lots of information online about fixing your credit and increasing your score.

Why Avoid It? Your credit score will have a big effect on the interest rate lenders will offer. It could be a full percentage point, which could be the difference between a reasonable monthly payment and one that you can’t support. Besides that, the interest you pay over the life of the loan will be much higher.

2. Not Saving for a Down Payment

This is one of those classic first-time homebuyer mistakes. You do know you’ll need a down payment, right? If you do, you probably also know that there a variety of requirements for a down payment on a house. But, just because you think you can get a mortgage with 3% down, that doesn’t mean that you should. The less you put down, the higher your monthly payments will be and it will take you longer to build equity.

Why Avoid It? At a minimum, you need to look at your options before you make a decision about a down payment. There are low interest/low down payment options, but you need to choose carefully. You also need to be prepared for the cash you’ll need to pay closing costs.

3. Skipping the Pre-Approval

It’s easy to get caught up in looking at homes for sale on the internet and put off thinking about financing. That backward approach can cause trouble later. Hiring a real estate agent to start your search isn’t a problem. Your agent can probably refer you to a lender who specializes in first-time buyers who can tell you about mortgage programs that target first-time homebuyers. But, before you get serious about looking at homes, make sure to talk to a lender and get a pre-approval.

First-Time Homebuyer MistakesWhy Avoid It? Once you get pre-approved, you’ll know exactly what price range to look at. You’ll also have an estimate of a monthly payment that you’re comfortable with. It’s very sad when someone falls in love with a house, then discovers that they can’t afford it.

A pre-approval also gives you a strong negotiating position when you do find your house. Sellers don’t want a deal to fall through because the buyer can’t get a mortgage. When you’re pre-approved, your offer will stand out from the crowd, which will make negotiations go more smoothly.

4. Buying Too Much House

After you’ve talked to a real estate agent and a lender, you will have an estimate of the amount of a mortgage you can get approved for. But, keep in mind that you don’t have to use that entire amount when you buy a house. You need to take a hard look at the maximum monthly payment you’ll have if you buy a house at the top of the range for which you’re pre-approved.

Another way people end up with too much house is that they don’t calculate maintenance costs and factor that in to their monthly commitment. Maintenance costs will vary depending on the age of your home, your climate, and more. There’s a rule many people use that says you’ll spend 1% of the value of your home each year in maintenance. So, for that $250,000 house, you can estimate costs of $2500 a year, or approximately $200 per month.

Why Avoid It? It’s easy to see the house of your dreams and know that you could purchase it with the mortgage pre-approval you have. But, more than one homebuyer has had that new-house glow wear off when they can’t afford to do the things they’ve always done. Sometimes people start running balances on their credit cards to make ends meet.

Sometimes people lose a job and can’t find another at the same salary quickly. The last thing you want to do is lose your house, or end up hating it because it changes your entire lifestyle. Think about your spending habits and be realistic about the monthly mortgage payment you want to sign up for.

5. Going on a Spending Spree after Getting a Pre-Approval

This is a very common among first-time homebuyer mistakes. Getting a pre-approval doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get a mortgage. Yes, that’s a surprising statement, but it’s true. When you make an offer on a home and your lender completes a formal mortgage application, the application then goes to underwriting. The underwriters review all the factors related to your application before giving a final approval. It’s important that you don’t change your financial situation until you close on your house.

Why Avoid It? If you finance the purchase of new furniture for your new home, you’re changing your financial position. Or, let’s say that you’d paid down your credit cards before you got the pre-approval, but then start running balances as you stock up on purchases for your new house. It’s possible that your mortgage application won’t be approved, even though you had a pre-approval.

When you’re a first-time homebuyer, you need to work with professionals who can guide you through the process. The Teri Arbogast Real Estate Team has established a reputation for working with first-time homebuyers.

Take a look at our Google reviews, and you’ll see that our clients have lots of good things to say. We’re very proud of our five-star ratings on Google, Zillow, and other real estate review websites. We’d love to make you our next successful client!  Call us at 954-242-8030 or send an email today.


If you’re planning to buy your first home, it’s an exciting time for you as first-time homebuyers! If you have an outstanding credit score, a large salary, and plenty of money for a down payment, you probably won’t have much problem getting a mortgage pre-approval.

On the other hand, if you have some credit challenges, your salary isn’t in the 6-figures, or you don’t have a large down payment, there’s more you need to know about your mortgage options.

Get Pre-Approved for a Loan

You need to know what price range to look in for your first home. The best way to determine that is to get pre-approved for a loan. When you start working with Broward County Realtors, like the experts at the Teri Arbogast Team, you’ll be able to get referrals to proven loan officers. The Realtors on Teri’s team know which loan officers are reliable and can offer you the best loan alternatives as a first-time buyer. Working with the right loan officer will make your home buying experience much easier.

Once you have that pre-approval, you’ll be able to look for homes that are within your budget, and you’ll be in a much stronger negotiating position. With a pre-approval, home sellers and their real estate agents know that you’re a serious buyer and that you’ll be very likely to close a deal without a problem.

Check Your Credit Rating

Before you start talking to loan officers, check your credit rating. Three credit bureaus publish credit reports, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can get free copies from each of them once a year.

Check the reports to make sure that all of the information is accurate. There are common errors that you’ll want to look for. If you find errors, you can dispute the information at each of the credit bureaus, usually online.

For initial discussions with loan officers, print out your credit reports and take them with you. Once you’ve chosen a loan officer, that person will obtain an official copy of your credit report. However, you don’t want multiple people to request your report because it will tend to lower your credit score.

Understand Your FICO Score

Each First-time homebuyerscredit bureau will publish a FICO score as part of your credit report. Most bureaus use FICO credit scores. The scores range from 300-850, and lenders know that the higher your score, the less risk there is of you defaulting on your mortgage. Here’s how lenders typically interpret the scores:

If you want to improve your credit score, you can follow the advice from the credit bureaus, like these tips from Experian. Once you start an active home search, do not do anything that will cause your credit score to go down. For example, don’t open any new credit card accounts, or purchase furnishings for your new home on credit. If you need to make major purchases, wait until after your loan has final approval.

Find the Best Mortgage

There are many alternatives and special loan programs for first-time homebuyers. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, which is why working with a reliable loan officer is so important. Here are just some of the options you may want to consider.

Conventional and FHA Mortgages

Conventional and FHA mortgages are two of the most common types available. A conventional mortgage refers to any mortgage that isn’t secured by a government agency. Typically, you’ll need a FICO score of 620 or higher to qualify. You’ll also typically need a 5 to 20 percent down payment. If you put down less than 20 percent, you’ll need to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) until your loan-to-value ratio is at least 80 percent.

For example, if you purchase a $200,000 home, and put down $10,000, you will finance $190,000. If you divide your loan amount by your home value, $190,000 divided by $200,000, your loan-to-value ratio would be 95 percent. As you make loan payments, you will continue to reduce your loan-to-value ratio. Once it reaches 80 percent, you can request removal of the PMI insurance fees.

The Federal Housing Administration provides insurance for FHA mortgages, so the lending criteria are more flexible. Some FHA loans only require a FICO score of around 580, and the minimum down payment can be as low as 3.5 percent.

However, FHA loans require an upfront premium of 1.75 percent of your mortgage amount. And, you will make insurance payments for the life of the loan if your down payment is less than 10 percent. You may be able to cancel that insurance after 11 years if your down payment is 10 percent or more.

USDA Loans

Loans offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are available in many parts of the U.S., even in areas that you wouldn’t ordinarily think of as rural areas. These loans don’t require a minimum down payment, and the mortgage insurance is less than with an FHA loan.

VA Loans

If you’re active or retired military, you’ll want to look into a VA loan. No minimum down payment is required, and no mortgage insurance is necessary.

These are examples of the most common types of loans that are good for first-time homebuyers. Your loan officer may offer other programs that will be most beneficial for your specific financial situations.

Final Thoughts

It’s exciting when you decide to buy your first home. But, we understand that first-time homebuyers need the right information and guidance to make informed decisions. If you’re thinking of buying a home for the first time, call us at 954-242-8030 or send an email.

We’ll make sure you avoid the pitfalls many first-time homebuyers fall into. And, we’ll help you find the right financing, neighborhood, and home – and have fun doing it!

Well, Gulfstream Park isn’t right in Davie, but it’s only about 15 miles away and easy to find. There’s something for couples, singles and families to do all year around.

An important venue for horseracing, the Park hosts world-class thoroughbreds, many of whom are reaching for glory in the Triple Crown races. The Casino offers two floors of slot machines, live poker games, and tournaments. But, don’t think that it’s just an adult venue – you’ll enjoy Gulfstream Park for kids, too!

The popularity of the destination is obvious in the excellent reviews found on Tripadvisor. Beyond the racing and casino activities, you’ll find the Village at Gulfstream Park. It’s an open-air mall filled with interesting shops and restaurants. In addition, there are always things to do and

Gulfstream Park for Kids

Children aren’t forgotten at Gulfstream Park. There are activities that the whole family will enjoy like pottery painting, bowling, and karaoke. But, activities for kids also includes things like a cooking class at Williams Sonoma, arcade games, and free cartoon drawing classes at Barker Animation Art Galleries.

special events to see.

{not so} Spooky Halloween

If you haven’t finalized your plans for Halloween this year, Gulfstream Park is a destination to consider. The event will be held on October 31, 2018 between the hours of 5 and 8 p.m, and it’s free.

You and the kids can enjoy trick or treating at over 30 stops. The Fire and Fountain show starts at 7 and 8 p.m. in the Pegasus Park, and you can see a Wizard Show at 7:15 p.m. It’s another example of why Gulfstream Park for kids is alive and well.

Strike 10 Bowling

The entire family can enjoy bowling at the 11 lanes that feature touch-screen technology. Younger children will love using the two small bowling lanes that are just their size. The facility also offers pool tables, air hockey, an arcade room and a full menu. Strike 10 Bowling is open in the afternoons and evenings seven days a week.

Gulfstream Park for KidsColor Me Mine

At Color Me Mine, you can create a pottery masterpiece. It’s a pottery painting studio that has hundreds of ceramic items and lots of paint colors. You can decorate your own bowl, candy dish, vase or figure and the folks at Color Me Mine will glaze and fire your masterpiece so that you can take it home.

It’s a great part of Gulfstream Park for kids. You can also arrange for a private party for events such as a kid’s birthday or a baby shower. Shops Galore!

The open-air mall is a fun place to explore. You’ll find everything from art galleries to fashion boutiques to home furnishings. You can even get your nails done while you’re there.


You’ll never go hungry while you’re at Gulfstream Park. Your biggest problem will probably be which type of a dining experience you’re in the mood for. Here are just a few of the choices:

If it’s just dessert on your mind, stop by Yogurtland or Haagen-Dazs for a frozen delight, or Le Macaron for French pastries.


Naturally, the nightlife starts with the horse racing, casino activities, and active Happy Hours.

If you’re a frustrated songbird, you will probably enjoy PlugIN. For your entertainment, you can share a private karaoke room at PlugIN with a group of friends. There are 18 rooms of various sizes to choose from, depending on the size of your group. If you’ve always been too embarrassed to try karaoke, now you’ll just have to worry about looking silly in front of your friends and family!

You’ll Love Living in Davie

There are so many things to do in the Davie area, and you’ll find lots of activities for kids, adults, and families. If you’re thinking of moving to the area, you’ll need a professional, talented, and caring REALTOR® to help you find the right home for you and your family.

Contact the Teri Arbogast Team whether you want to buy or sell in Davie. Call us at 954-242-8030 or send an email. You’ll be glad you joined our family of happy clients!

Zillow Zestimates

It’s a proven fact that the majority of homebuyers start their home search online.  One of the more well-known sites for home information is Zillow.  Zillow provides a range of tools for homebuyers, including Zestimates, which are Zillow’s best estimate of a home’s value.  Should you make decisions based on a Zestimate?  Here are the things to consider.

How Zillow Calculates an Estimate of a Home’s Value

Zillow uses an automated system to prepare estimates for over 100 million home in the U.S.  Given the sheer volume of estimates it tracks, Zillow must use a calculation based on a range of publically available information that results in an average price.

Data sources used for the estimate include MLS home listings, county tax records, and recent sales in the target home’s area.

How Accurate are Zillow Zestimates?

Zillow is open about the accuracy of its Zestimates.  For example, Zillow explains that half the home values are within 5.4 percent of the selling price, and half are off by more than 5.4 percent.  That means that half of the $200,000 homes on the site could be valued at roughly $190,000 on the low side or $210,800 on the high side.

Let’s say that the half that are off by more than 5.4 percent are actually off by 10 percent.  In that case, the $200,000 home could be valued at $180,000 on the low side or $220,000 on the high side.

Why are the Estimates Inaccurate so Often?

There are many reasons why the estimate could be inaccurate:

How Can Zestimates Cause Problems?

The biggest problem is that homebuyers and sellers tend to take the estimates they see on Zillow and other real estate websites as fact.  They don’t know about information like this and Zillow doesn’t make it easy to find.

Homebuyers may plan on making a ridiculously low offer on a home, and home sellers may plan to set an unrealistically high listing price for their home.  Then, when a professional real estate agent gets involved, the homebuyers and sellers are often presented with conflicting information.

Real estate agents are very familiar with Davie FL homes for sale, the neighborhoods in the area and the real estate market.  The comparative market analyses they prepare take many factors into account that the automated systems don’t.

What’s a Consumer To Do?

The advice I give to my clients is that they can use websites like Zillow to see lots of information, but that they need to take estimated home values as a very broad guideline.  They need to realize that the home value estimates are most likely off by tens of thousands of dollars.

In addition, I recommend that clients use a home search that comes right from our local MLS, like this one.  Searching the MLS gives you the most accurate information available, and you can simplify your search by setting up your own search account.

Using this account, you can save homes you like as favorites, and get emails as soon as homes that meet your criteria hit the market.  You can also save searches so you don’t need to select your criteria every time you visit the site.

If you have questions about buying or selling home in the Davie FL area, the experts on the Teri Arbogast Team can help.  Call us at 954-242-8030 or send an email!


Teri Arbogast Team Davie FL Homes for SaleWe specialize in Davie FL homes for sale, and Broward County homes for sale in the Cooper City, Coral Springs, Pembroke Pines, Plantation, Southwest Ranches, Sunrise and Weston communities.

If you were born in the later years of the Millennial generation, you may be thinking about becoming first-time homebuyers.  And, if you’re like many Millennials, you graduated from college, got a high-paying job and saved your money.  You don’t want to buy a starter home – you want a home with lots of room for expanding your family, high-end finishes and all the comforts you got used to in your parent’s home.

The difference between you and other first-time homebuyers is that you’re going to be making a significant investment.  These tips can help you protect that investment and prepare for your future.

  1. Know the difference between what you can afford and what you’re comfortable paying.

A common mistake first-time homebuyers make is that they aren’t realistic about what they can afford.  Or, more importantly, the percent of their budget they want to spend on a mortgage and related expenses.

You may be get approved by a bank for a $400,000 loan, but when you do the math, you discover that loan won’t leave you enough discretionary dollars to do the other things you want to do.  Start your home search by deciding what percent of your take-home pay you want to spend on your home each month, and look for homes in the price range that will make you comfortable.

  1. Identify a realistic view of the cost of home ownership.

When you consider your monthly obligation, make sure to account for utilities, maintenance and HOA  fees.  Don’t want to cut the lawn yourself?  Add the cost of a monthly service to your mortgage payment.  Once you become a homeowner, you’ll experience all the little maintenance issues that come up.  Be sure you plan ahead to cover those expenses without ruining your financial plan.

To get a feel for the type of home that fits within your “want to spend” dollar limit, use the internet to look at Davie FL homes for sale or those in the surrounding areas before you start looking in person.  You can create a personal Davie area MLS home search account that will let you save searches in various price brackets.  Keep in mind that you need to look at the information coming directly from the official up-to-date source, the MLS.  Zillow Zestimates are flashy, but historically they’ve proved to be extremely inaccurate.

Those saved searches will make it much less time consuming when you want to look at set of search results.  In addition, you can save homes in your account’s favorites to keep track of homes you find attractive.  You’ll even get email updates when homes that meet your criteria first hit the market.

With this information, you can make informed decisions.  If getting your dream home will be slightly higher than the budget you set, you can consider if you want to increase your budget considering the things you may need to give up or defer if you do.

  1. Reinforce your negotiating position by getting pre-approved.

Getting pre-approved by a reputable lender is an absolute requirement.  Do it before you start looking at homes.  There are several benefits:

  1. Choose your real estate agent carefully.

There’s a myth in real estate that says all real estate agents are the same, but it’s only a myth.  Especially when you’re purchasing your first home, you’ll need to depend on insight from professionals since you have limited information about the home buying process.

Choose a real estate agent as carefully as you choose your first home.  Relatives or family friends may not have the skills you need to guide you through this process.  Choose an agent you can trust, and ask the tough questions that will ensure your agent meets your needs.  You need an agent who has worked with first-time homebuyers before.  The agent should know the local neighborhoods and be able to help you choose a home and neighborhood that fit your lifestyle.

Buying your first home should be an exciting and fulfilling experience.  If you put careful thought into the financial aspects of purchasing a home and work with an agent who can get you the information you need to make informed decisions, you’ll end up a very happy first-time home buyer.

The real estate experts on The Teri Arbogast Team have extensive experience in working with first-time home buyers.  If you want to explore establishing a relationship with a top real estate agent, call us at 954-242-8030 or send an email for more information.



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